One Local Child Recovered During Operation Cross Country VIII
During the past week, the New Haven Division of the FBI, along with its local and state law enforcement partners, participated in Operation Cross Country VIII, a week-long enforcement action designed to address commercial child sex trafficking throughout the United States. New Haven was among 54 FBI field divisions nationwide working to locate and rescue underage prostitutes from the streets. Nationwide the operation resulted in 168 recoveries of children who were being victimized through prostitution networks. Additionally, 281 pimps were arrested on state and federal charges.
“Operation Cross Country’s mission is to rescue sexually exploited children from the streets of America, children forced into despicable lifestyles of prostitution and forced to live in the most horrible of conditions,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferrick. “That we even have to combat this crime speaks to a dark side of society. But we are making strides, getting these kids back to safe and caring environments and prosecuting the pimps that have been exploiting them. There is no greater calling than protecting innocent children from harm, and we are making progress.”
Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), to address the growing problem of child prostitution.
As part of Operation Cross Country VIII, the New Haven FBI and its partners rescued one child victim. Over the past year, the New Haven FBI and its task force partners, in Operation Cross Country operations and other covert law enforcement operations, have recovered 13 children from the streets of Connecticut.
Task force operations usually begin as local enforcement actions that target truck stops, casinos, street “tracks,” and websites that advertise dating or escort services, based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions. Initial arrests are often violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested frequently uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further develop this evidence in partnership with U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section so that prosecutors can help bring federal charges in those cities where child prostitution occurs.
The Innocence Lost National Initiative partners with NCMEC to provide training for state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from across the country. In Connecticut, the Department of Children and Families has been an invaluable partner, working to help the victims return to supportive settings and surroundings and to protect them from future abuses.
The New Haven FBI most appreciatively thanks its local and state partners for their ongoing law enforcement efforts in Operation Cross Country related operations and actions.